“Sons of Two Empires”: The Idea of Nationhood in Anzac and Turkish Poems of the Gallipoli Campaign

Burcin Cakir, Berkan Ulu

Abstract

An unexpected failure of the Allied forces and a monumental victory for the Turks, the Gallipoli Campaign (1915) is thought to be the first notable experience for Australians and New Zealanders on their way to identify themselves as nations free from the British Empire. For the war-weary Turks, too, the victory in Gallipoli was the beginning of their transformation from a wreck of an empire to a modern republic. Despite the existence of a substantial body of research on the military, political, and historical aspects of the campaign, studies on the literature of Gallipoli are very few and often deal with canonised poets such as Rupert Brooke or national concerns through a single perspective. Aiming to bring to light underappreciated poets from Gallipoli, this paper is a comparative study of less known poems in English and Turkish from Gallipoli. While doing this, the study traces the signs of the nation-building processes of Australia, New Zealand, and Turkey with emphasis on national identity. To this end, the paper examines a number of Gallipoli poems in English and Turkish that were composed by combatant or non-combatant poets by using close reading analysis in search of shifts in discourse and tone. The study also underlines how poets from the two sides identified themselves and the ways the campaign is reflected in these poems. At length, the study shows that Gallipoli poems display similar attitudes towards the idea of belonging to an empire although they differ in the way warfare is perceived. With emphasis on less known poems and as one of the very few comparative studies of the poetry of the Gallipoli Campaign, this paper will contribute to the current research into the legacy and literature of the First World War.

Keywords

The Gallipoli Campaign; poetry; nationhood; Anzacs; Turks

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.2018.31.06

Copyright (c) 2019 Burcin Cakir, Berkan Ulu

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